Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20 (NKJV)
After Jesus sends out the seventy disciples as “sheep among wolves” to prepare for the ministry of Jesus, Luke records and describes their return in this passage. The disciples come back beaming, excited, thrilled and enthusiastic about all they have accomplished and witnessed. They returned to Jesus and they seem as if that cannot wait to report that they have had victory as a result of their witnessing and ministering in Jesus’ name and authority. But Jesus helps them to see the big picture and get their priorities straight. His response to them is astonishing! He reminds the people that their most crucial victory, and the one thing that should be filling their hearts with abounding joy far exceeding the joy they are experiencing as a result of their labor, was that their names were written in heaven. This was an honor that made everything else dwarf in comparison and it was a wonder that should fill their hearts with a sense of wonder far greater than any work they could accomplish in this world.
This passage reminded me so much of an event that I had been a part of, very recently in my life journey. It is a true story and it involved a young lady that God placed in my path. She was not a believer of Jesus Christ and life was simply just falling apart on her. She was suffering from an awful depression caused by the loss of a family member and a breakup of her family, not to mention other things that were just making her life in shambles. After a few conversations with her, I offered to pray for her right then and there. After my prayer, she told me that nobody had ever done anything like that for her before. This started a chain of questions about my faith in Jesus and what it was that brought me joy, peace and light in my life. God gave this opportunity to me and He used me to introduce her to Him. I ended up buying her a bible, something which she had never read before, and I gave her some simple reading material that explained the gospel message. A few days later, she came to me and told me that she made a decision to ask Jesus Christ to forgive her sins and she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
I remember when I first heard the news of her decision. My heart was beating with so much joy! Just like the seventy disciples, I was ecstatic that God would use me to reach out to this sister that was so desperate to know Him. I am quite sure that I felt just like the seventy disciples that Luke describes in this passage. God had used me to give the Word of God to another human being and this person had come to a saving faith in Christ. How glorious and wonderful I felt! Then today, I read Jesus’ words that He spoke to the disciples, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
God has spoken directly to my heart through these words today. I hear Him saying to me, that although it is good to rejoice in the work that He has called me to do, the one thing I should rejoice in most is that He has allowed me, a sinner deserving of death, an unimaginable victory that far exceeds any accomplishment or victory in this world. My name is written in heaven. He has given to me a citizenship that is far greater than anything I could dream of or imagine. I get to live with Him forever and live in His house. Not because I deserve it or because I am worthy of it. But only because of His grace and His unfailing love. There is no greater joy that could be had than this and I must never lose sight of this awesome wonder that I get to spend eternity with Him in heaven!
O, Great and merciful God, how awesome you are! Thank you so much for the using the gospel writers to record the words of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior. My heart bursts with overwhelming and indescribable joy over the thought of spending eternity with you! But I confess Lord, that this world often seems so big to me and confess that I lose sight of the things that really matter most. Lord, even when you give me success in service to you, it is all Your work and not mine! I cannot take the credit for it at all! I am simply your vessel and this existence was created by you simply to be used by you to bring glory to yourself. But Lord, what a tremendous and abounding joy you have placed on my heart through the reminders you have given in your word!
You suffered and died for me. You rose on the third day and you are seated at the right hand of the Father and you have gone to prepare a place for me so that where you are, I will one day be! How awesome and incredible that promise is! I pray Lord that Your Spirit always reminds me of this amazing promise of my citizenship in heaven that is reserved for me. Until I am there, I will lovingly serve you and adore you. Take this vessel and use me! I will forever ascribe praise and adoration, always looking forward with all joy, to the day when I kneel before you face to face. How I love you, Jesus!
In your precious Name above all Names, I pray